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Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2007 May;13(3):159-69.

Radiological imaging in pneumonia: recent innovations.

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  • 1Sections of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Manitoba, St. Boniface General Hospital, Canada.



Pneumonia is one of the major infectious diseases responsible for significant morbidity and mortality throughout the world. Radiological imaging plays a prominent role in the evaluation and treatment of patients with pneumonia. This paper reviews recent innovations in the radiologic diagnosis and management of suspected pulmonary infections.


Chest radiography is the most commonly used imaging tool in pneumonias because of availability and an excellent cost-benefit ratio. Computed tomography is mandatory in unresolved cases or when complications of pneumonia are suspected. A specific radiologic pattern can suggest a diagnosis in many cases. Bacterial pneumonias are classified into four main groups: community-acquired, aspiration, healthcare-associated and hospital-acquired pneumonia. The radiographic patterns of community-acquired pneumonia may be variable and are often related to the causative agent. Aspiration pneumonia involves the lower lobes with bilateral multicentric opacities. The radiographic patterns of healthcare-associated and hospital-acquired pneumonia are variable, most commonly showing diffuse multifocal involvement and pleural effusion.


Combination of pattern recognition with knowledge of the clinical setting is the best approach to the radiologic interpretation of pneumonia. Radiological imaging will narrow the differential diagnosis of direct additional diagnostic measures and serve as an ideal tool for follow-up examinations.

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